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Diethanolamine

General Description

  • Synonyms: 2,2'-Iminobisethanol; 2,2'-Iminodiethanol; Diethylolamine; Bis(2-hydroxyethyl)amine; 2,2'-Dihydroxydiethylamine; DEA
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: D129
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 111-42-2
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: KL2975000
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Diethanolamine: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits

  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2008): 1 mg/m3 (inhalable fraction and vapor) TWA; Skin; A3
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 3 ppm (15 mg/m3) TWA

Health Factors

  • Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin, nose, throat; lacrimation, eye burns, corneal necrosis; skin burns; sneezing, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath; headache; nausea, vomiting; INGES ACUTE: abdominal pain, burning sensation.
  • Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Skin, Nose, Throat---Marked (HE14); Cumulative Toxicity---Liver carcinogen in mice (HE2).
  • Affected Organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system
  • Notes:
    1. Although a connection between diethanolamine in metal working fluids and and increased risk of stomach cancer has been postulated, the only type of cancer caused by 2-year skin-application studies in rodents was liver cancer in mice.
    2. One case of diethanolamine-induced occupational asthma has been reported.
    3. Animal studies show slow excretion in the urine and accumulation in liver, kidney, spleen, and brain, where it may be metabolized into aberrant phospholipids.
  • Literature Basis:
    • EPA Air Toxics Website: Diethanolamine. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Technology Transfer Network.
    • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Diethanolamine.
    • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Diethanolamine.
    • Mathews, J.M., Garner, C.E. and Matthews, H.B.: Metabolism, bioaccumulation, and incorporation of diethanolamine into phospholipids. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 8(5): 625-633, 1995.
    • Mirer, F.: Updated epidemiology of workers exposed to metalworking fluids provides sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity. Appl. Occup. Environ. Hyg. 18(11):902-912, 2003.
    • National Toxicology Program: NTP Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of diethanolamine (CAS No. 111-42-2) in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice (dermal studies). Natl. Toxicol. Program Tech. Rep. Ser. 478: 1-212, 1999.
    • Piipari, R., et al.: Diethanolamine-induced occupational asthma, a case report. Clin. Exp. Allergy 28(3): 358-362, 1998.
    • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Diethanolamine. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 860-862.
  • Date Last Revised: 02/09/2004

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Coated XAD-2 Tube (80/40 mg sections, 20/60 mesh); Coating is 10% (w/w) 1-Naphthylisothiocyanate (NITC)
  • analytical solvent: Dimethylformamide
  • maximum volume: 10 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min
  • current analytical method: High Performance Liquid chromatography; HPLC/UV
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2018)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: OSHA personnel may obtain sampling tubes from the Salt Lake Technical Center.

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